Culture

FYI: The Term ‘Boyfriend Jeans’ Is an Example of the Patriarchy

It's sexist and ageist and fattist.

In case you don’t spend your time sitting around thinking of everyday things that could actually be secretly oppressing women, here’s one you might have missed: “boyfriend jeans.”

That’s right. The fact that fashion designers use the term “boyfriend jeans” to describe looser-fitting pants is an example of the patriarchy — at least if you ask “essayist and journalist who writes about gender” Elissa Strauss.

“Are they a death knell for female confidence and ambition? Of course not,” Strauss stated in a piece for The Week, published Tuesday.

“But each time I put them on, I stop and wonder how this subtle affront to my dignity has gone on so long,” she continued.

Now, some women might consider the idea that a name for a pants style could be capable of affecting their dignity in the first place to be a much greater “affront” to it, but Strauss seems convinced:

“Here’s what’s so off about the boyfriendization of women’s clothing: It implies that a woman should only wear baggy clothes after she has secured a mate,” she explained.

Hmmm . . . that’s interesting. After all, I’ve never heard “boyfriend jeans” and thought, “Oh, jeans you can wear only if you have a boyfriend.” Rather, I assumed the name came from the fact that men’s clothing tends to be larger than women’s clothing.

Apparently, however, that’s offensive too:

#related#“They also suggest that a woman should be straight, smaller than men, and young — older women tend to have husbands, wives, and partners,” she continued.

But here’s the thing: Generally, women are smaller than men. Some might say it’s “sexist” to make such a claim, but the Centers for Disease Control says the the average American man is 69.3 inches and 195.5 pounds while the average woman is just 63.8 inches and 166.2 pounds — so, you know, take it up with them.

As for her suggestion that the pants are subtly telling women that they should be “young” because “young” women usually have “boyfriends” whereas older women have “husbands”? Well, I’m not quite convinced of that either. After all, can’t we all agree that the term “husband jeans” sounds a little creepy?

—​ Katherine Timpf is a National Review Online reporter.

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